How the classic song ‘Thakita thadhimi’ from ‘Sagara Sangamam’ was filmed

A look at the events that led to the filming of the ‘Thakita thadhimi’ song from Sagara Sangamam, which won Ilaiyaraaja his first National Award

K Viswanath’s proclivity in writing strong women characters was well known. In an interview to The Hindu given in December 1990, the legendary filmmaker had said, “I feel woman holds the key to a man’s life. She is responsible either for his downfall or for his well-being. She is definitely the central force.” Take for example, Sagara Sangamam (1983), one of his all-time favoured movies. The protagonist Balakrishna’s (Kamal Haasan) life revolves around two women — his mother (Janaki) whose sole ambition is to see her son’s dance performance on stage and Madhavi (Jaya Prada) who gets him such an opportunity on a national stage, which he could not utilise as fate willed otherwise. His mother’s sudden death shatters him and he tries to find solace in the company of Madhavi. Knowing that she likes him, Balu proposes to her, ignorant that she is already married but estranged. He then unites her with her husband. However, Balu could not face this second jolt in his life. For consolation Balu hits the bottle.

Years later, he is compelled to teach dance to a pampered brat Sailaja (SP Sailaja) on whose dance performance he once wrote a critical review. He is not aware that the young dancer was the daughter of Madhavi who by then has lost her husband. She wants to hide this fact from Balu, who was under the impression that she is living happily with her husband. “At one stage, they have to face each other; backed by a strong situation. That’s when the dance on the well idea occurred to me. When an alcoholic dances precariously on a well, it is only natural that the concerned person would rush to save him,” K Viswanath had said.

Maestro Ilaiyaraaja came up with a befitting tune and also gave the opening line, ‘Thakita thadhimi thakita thadhimi thandaana’ to Veturi Sundararama Murthy.

How the classic song ‘Thakita thadhimi’ from ‘Sagara Sangamam’ was filmed

The scene

Balu agrees to teach dance to Sailaja at the hill station so that he can support the treatment of his friend Raghu’s (Sarath Babu) ailing wife (Rajarajeswari). In an inebriated condition he dances on the well. When the servant Sivaiah’s (Potti Prasad) efforts to stop him go in vain, Madhavi rushes to bring him down from the well. Knowing his health condition and to avoid giving him a shock, she wears the traditional kumkuma (vermilion) on her forehead. Balu is delighted to see her. As rain lashes on them, he holds his hand over her face to protect the vermilion on her forehead.

SP Balasubrahmanyam’s alluring rendition matched Kamal Haasan’s brilliant on- screen performance. SPB bagged his third National Award for another song, ‘Vedam anuvanuvuna nadam’ from the movie.

K Viswanath’s vision for the song, ‘Thakita thadhimi’ was well executed by two talented technicians — art director Thota Tharani and cinematographer PS Nivas.

How the classic song ‘Thakita thadhimi’ from ‘Sagara Sangamam’ was filmed

Geetha Krishna, who later directed such movies as Kokila and Keechurallu, worked as an assistant director for Sagara Sangamam. He shares: “It was my first film as an assistant director with K Viswanath. Each day it was a learning experience. This song, ‘Thakita thadhimi’ was shot at two locations. The scene in which Jaya Prada wears the vermilion was shot at Sun (now Suraaj) Palace guest house in Ooty and the rest of the song was shot at Arunachalam Studios in Madras. Thota Tharani created an outhouse set and an authentic-looking dilapidated well with two pipes on it. What was more impressive was the creation of the hill station atmosphere in the backdrop to make-believe the outhouse is part of the palatial Ooty building. Nivas’ brilliant lighting and camera work using crane shots, cut shots and low angle shots made the song a pleasure to watch.”

Ilaiyaraaja who rarely stepped out of Prasad Studios, Chennai, to compose the songs, made an exception for the Shankarabharanam makers — producer Edida Nageswara Rao and K Viswanath — by composing for Sagara Sangamam at Poornodaya Cine Creations office.

The maestro went on to win his first National Film Award for this movie.


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Printable version | Jul 29, 2020 1:54:08 AM |

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